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Learning to Carve Into Ancient Limestone 74 Million Years Old

‘Carved at the Castle’ offers a variety of unique traditional craft courses, giving you the chance to learn how to create something distinctive in limestone that is 74 million years old.

Run by The Rock Stone Masonry in the picturesque Glenarm Castle estate, ‘Carved at the Castle’ have a variety of courses for people wanting to learn a new skill and leave with a love for this heritage craft.

Nathan Morrow, founder of The Rock Stone Masonry explained that beginners will get to hand carve a v-cut letter in local ancient limestone.

“If you are feeling eager you can carve your own house number and proudly display it at your front door,” he said. “This is a great hands-on insight for those with an interest in traditional skills or to develop skills further in a controlled environment.

“Participants are taught by fully qualified stonemasons.”

“Every step of the process is included from correctly stencilling to learning how to use the tools and carving out the letters. You are guaranteed to have fun and leave having learnt a new skill and love for this special heritage craft.”

From learning the principles, through to the process of making a rough-cut, participants then pick a piece of stone, already selected for size and work, to carve letters or numbers. These pieces of stone are local to Glenarm, having been quarried there since the late 18th Century.

Experienced tutors will then guide participants through the various processes involved in a hands-on, small ground setting.

Those taking part vary from those wanting to learn a new craft skill through those with some experience, but it is pitched at a level for everyone.

On the beginners course, Nathan explains that participants will learn the precise nature of ‘V-cut’ lettering.

“To give you an example of how precise it is, it is like working with a sharp pencil,” he said. “Once you make a pencil sharp with a long lead you can press too hard and break the lead, but you don’t want to carve without understanding how to apply pressure to a pencil line itself.

“The chisel has to split that pencil line. The precision of cutting a letter is halving a pencil line.

“Participants initially don’t think too much about it but when they start into it, they realise you’re actually taking the stone down to halve a pencil line.”

Alongside the beginners course there are additional opportunities at a beginner level to branch further including lime pointing, random rubble building and drystone walling whilst practicing maintenance and repairs throughout the Glenarm Estate, alongside Nathan and his team of stonemasons. More advanced courses delve further into high/low relief carving and three-dimensional sculptures.

The courses are held at Glenarm Castle Estate and run on alternative Saturdays, from 9am to 3pm, with up to 14 participants, with a low level bench for accessibility.

We intend to release further weekday dates and increase to every weekend. Further dates will be added as required. Private group bookings and tailored classes/demonstrations can be requested via email

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